For readers interested in finding a book on runes that's a step beyond introduction but not awash in arcane theory, Galina's book “Living Runes” is quite a find. The author has spent many years developing a personal relationship with the runes and shares her accumulated wisdom in the text. Galina writes “This is the book that I wish I had had access to when I was first starting out more than two decades ago.” She describes the runes as “sentient, independent spirit allies.” Indeed they are! This book is a portal to access their powers, personalities, strengths, and liabilities. The author emphasizes throughout the text that the aspiring rune worker can build a relationship that extends through personal development, magic, and divinatory skills.

Chapter 1 is about Odin, the First Rune-Master. Odin's efforts to gain and master the runes provides a template for personal study. The author emphasizes the role of pain and sacrifice in order to gain wisdom (she's not being a drama queen – this is just how it is). Chapter 2 is about the Runes as Spirit Allies. Galina explains how they are primordial beings with “an instinct and intellect all their own, and a very potent will.” Consider this chapter as the directions and warnings that come along with any divinatory tool, the mandatory reading before blast-off. This is one of the best descriptions I've ever read on the nature of the runes. A rune-charging offering ritual is given at the end of the chapter.

Chapter 3: The Elder Futhark guides the reader through the twenty-four runes. Individual sections include variant rune names and the traditional meaning. The ancient regional poems are given in the original language and in translation (bonus!) followed by a highly insightful “Impressions of the Rune” section that describes the rune's character, nature, energies and powers. The chapter ends with three useful exercises to help the reader get to know each rune.

A super-bonus comes in Chapter 4: The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, which includes full descriptions of nine additional rune forms. Chapter 5: Wyrd is about the overarching energies that flow through the runes. It's similar to karma, but is better described as “the interactive fabric of creation.” Chapter 6: Galdr describes methods for the magical sing-chanting associated with rune mastery.

Chapter 7 offers some divination techniques. Runes are quite different from tarot cards or other divination methods. Galina shares tips on preparation and precautions. There are a half-dozen different rune spreads provided. There is a discussion of ethical considerations with Raven Kaldera's guidelines for professional diviners. Chapter 8 is about rune magic, with advice about personal psychic hygiene and other considerations that one must address when delving into magical practices. There aren't any cute little plug-in spells, but rather a philosophical platform upon which the individual must access to work magic effectively. The book ends with a Suggested Reading section, a bibliography, end notes, and an index.

This is a top-shelf book on runes. The writing is clear and authoritative without being too bossy. The organization and formatting is quite good. This text gives the reader rune meanings with a visceral impact that don't appear in any other book on the topic. Well done! Highly recommended.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Author: Galina Krasskova
2019, Weiser Books
221 pages, $15.95